What is Lycopene?
Lycopene is the “red” color found in tomatoes. It is a carotenoid (bright color found in fruits and vegetables) and phytonutrient (nutrient found in plants which helps the process of photosynthesis). It is an essential antioxidant that can help protect against free radicals, oxidative stress, and cell aging.
What does Lycopene do?
- Protects DNA in cells from damage.
- Can lower risk for prostate cancer and can hinder prostate gland enlargement.
- Protects skin from UV damage and has smoothing properties.
- Can increase plasma levels which plays a role in bone resorption (process of releasing minerals, like calcium, from the bone into the bloodstream), therefore promoting bone health.
- Lowers risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
What are the best sources of Lycopene?
- Tomatoes (slightly heating tomatoes will release lycopene from the skin, higher levels of lycopene can be found in organic tomato paste or sauce)
- Rose hips
- Red cabbage
Lycopene via supplements may interfere with cancer treatments, such as chemo or radiation therapy. Food sources of lycopene have not been shown to interfere with these therapies, though a physician should be consulted.